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Does Social Media Make You Second Guess Your Parenting?

Picture this: You are having a fun day with your kids. You post a picture to Instagram and Facebook about it and tweet something silly your child said.

Within minutes there are comments questioning everything from what they are wearing to where you went and goodness how could you feed them THAT?

It used to be that only a small circle of people would know about our parenting choices.  There were always prior giving unsolicited advice, but has it gotten out of control with the reach of the internet?

Or… maybe you don’t post much, but you read and see what others are doing.  How come your kids can’t make gorgeous crafts like on Pinterest? Are there really modern families cooking and serving 5 course meals every night? Are your kids deprived for not having as many (fancily wrapped) gifts at every holiday and non holiday printed on the calendar?

Do you think being inundated with what everyone is doing (and their opinions) is making parents feel insecure about their choices?

Tell me what you think in the comments and share this post so others can weigh in too.

This post was inspired in part by “Don’t Let Social Media Make You Feel Like a Bad Mom.

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Comments ( 34 )

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  1. Ellen Christian April 3, 2013 Reply

    I’m not sure. When my kids were little (they are teens now), I still second guessed my decisions depending on what parenting books I was reading. I don’t think social media is any worse for it.
    Ellen Christian recently posted..Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Cookiesscentednights

    • Darcy Zalewski April 3, 2013 Reply

      Oh yes the books! I read a lot of them too and they often contradicted each other.DarcyZalewski

  2. There are times when social media makes me want to hide under the bed and stick my fingers in my ears. There can be some real naysayers out there!

    However, I find that there are equally–if not more–supportive people on social media. I have had so many questions answered about homeschooling, parenting, etc. that I wouldn’t have been able to figure out on my own. Or very well, at least.
    Laurel @Let’s Go on a Picnic! recently posted..Our Favorite Books of Marchheadant

    • Darcy Zalewski April 3, 2013 Reply

      There is definitely a lot of support too. The negative comments always hit harder – especially if they come out of nowhere. Or seem to be very attacking.DarcyZalewski

  3. Allyson Bossie April 3, 2013 Reply

    I agree with Ellen. I always read the latest parenting and marraige books when my oldest was an only child, and I second guessed everything. I actually felt guilty that he could only manage a few hours sleep in our bed when the huge boom was CIO. I think as a mother we will always wonder if we are doing best or good for our kids. I think if their tummies are full, bodies are clean (at least at bedtime :D), and they are in no physical danger, then I am succeeding.MyW1ldcrazylife

    • Darcy Zalewski April 3, 2013 Reply

      The books had me all over the place sometimes too. For me I think the real time feedback can be overwhelming at times online. It’s especially tough when choices you feel strongly about are the center of attention. I definitely agree that most of us will always wonder to a degree if we are getting it right.DarcyZalewski

  4. Misfit Momma April 3, 2013 Reply

    I’m definitely leery about posting certain pictures not because I think I’m doing anything wrong but because other people might think I am. I’ve seen people being attacked by a choice they made (usually something harmless), and I just don’t want to put myself in that spot.

    My kids have the things they need, but when it comes to Holiday’s they don’t get huge piles of things like I’ve seen other people posting and it does make me feel bad but it is what it is.
    Misfit Momma recently posted..Giveaway: Kobo Arc 64GBMisfitMomma

    • Darcy Zalewski April 3, 2013 Reply

      I’ve been attacked and it doesn’t feel good. I always get nervous when posting anything about car seats. It’s actually to the point where I’m afraid to really post much on my fan page for discussion anymore for fear of being personally attacked or offending someone. I try not to worry about the holiday stuff though sometimes it makes me feel bad for having as much as I do. We don’t go crazy, but it actually has made question why we got so much.DarcyZalewski

  5. Shell April 3, 2013 Reply

    I think maybe things were easier back when we only knew what others were doing(and they only knew what we were doing) when we actually told each other, face to face, instead of having it all out there.

    Don’t get me wrong- I love social media, but it does seem to lend itself to judgement.
    Shell recently posted..Pour Your Heart Out: Speaking Up

    • Darcy Zalewski April 3, 2013 Reply

      The real time feedback with the internet buffer seems to invite more judgement and unsolicited remarks. Well unsolicited doesn’t necessarily bother me as much as the judgemental remarks. It’s like people have forgotten how to disagree without personal attacks… then there’s the group that will lecture you about NOT judging others when you ask a discussion question because they think an opinion or thought on the matter is casting judgement on people (rather than discussing behavior, for example).

      It does have great support too, like Laurel mentioned in her comment. It’s been interesting observing how social media has impacted my thoughts and behaviors from pre-kids to pregnancy to post-kids! Thanks for sparking me to post about it.DarcyZalewski

  6. Janet Dubac April 4, 2013 Reply

    Negative comments really does hurt but we can’t please anyone and nobody is perfect when it comes to parenting. Social media can be really destructive when it comes to parenting but it is also offers you a lot of support. From pregnancy, schooling, understanding teens, etc.

    • Darcy Zalewski April 4, 2013 Reply

      I’m thankful for the supportive resources and people. I think one issue is that we don’t always realize how much our comments can sting someone else. Text is tricky at times too.DarcyZalewski

  7. Tahlia B. April 4, 2013 Reply

    It’s frustrating that complete strangers who know nothing about you can have such a negative impact.
    Tahlia B. recently posted..Catching Up: Sweeps and Giveaways

    • Darcy Zalewski April 4, 2013 Reply

      You’d think it would be easy to blow it off knowing that they don’t know you but it can be the opposite.. like I feel I have to defend myself to the internet. Sometimes it isn’t words directed at me that hurt or make me feel insecure, just posts/comments I see around the web.

      Then it begs the question … It’s it more of an insecurity issue then?

      Those dang flickers of doubt!DarcyZalewski

  8. LaVonne April 4, 2013 Reply

    Thankfully, I have not had anyone say anything negative yet. Oh, wait, one person (older health nut) commented about when I purchased an amazing Groupon for doughnuts. I ignored that. I try not to hide who we are when I share on Social Media. I am heading to that link next that inspired your post.
    LaVonne recently posted..Breastfeeding at 10 Months and 5 Uses for Lanolinlongwait4bella

    • Darcy Zalewski April 9, 2013 Reply

      I’ve received a few negative comments, but have seen others totally torn down :( It’s so sad.DarcyZalewski

  9. Rohit Sharma April 5, 2013 Reply

    Commenting netiquettes is an area which needs attention of on-liners. If I have to pass a negative comment I must give a room to the poster who has posted his stuff. In such a case I must go for an exclusive comment in the form of a message which should not be visible to the rest of the community.

    Apart from negative comments I do feel slightly insecure of exposing details of my choices but as far as closed loop is concerned, it’s ok and it keep my folks informed.
    Rohit Sharma recently posted..What is your Revolution?rohitsharma

    • Darcy Zalewski April 9, 2013 Reply

      Netiquette is a growing issue for sure. Thanks for commenting!DarcyZalewski

  10. Jon Rhodes April 5, 2013 Reply

    I personally don’t update with information about my kids. It’s so easy to slip up and make a mistake that can effect their safety. For instance, telling everyone that they have gone to the cinema on their own. Now the public know where that child is and at what time.

    You may trust your friends and family, but most people have 2 or 3 hundred “friends” on Facebook. These can’t all be close friends and family, so you have to be very careful what you say about your children.
    Jon Rhodes recently posted..Comment on What One Piece Of Advice Would You Give To A New Blogger? by marty

    • Darcy Zalewski April 8, 2013 Reply

      There’s definitely a level of personal security. I blog about my family and share about them on all of my social channels so I have to balance and walk that line constantly. Thanks for your input!DarcyZalewski

  11. Steph Furlan April 5, 2013 Reply

    Hi Darcy,
    I found your blog through Probloggers’ blog discussion.
    Very interesting blog post. I don’t have any kids myself, but I know that my parents always felt like they’d hear other people out yet ultimately would decide what was best for me. The online world, where many comments can populate, can be quite overwhelming for people. I think it’s great to conserve with other people and hear their suggestions, but parents, and anyone really, need to filter through it and just be firm in their own decision making.

    • Darcy Zalewski April 8, 2013 Reply

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Steph. I agree that it can be information overload and it all needs to be taken with a grain of salt.DarcyZalewski

  12. Linda O'Rourke April 8, 2013 Reply

    Hi Darcy

    I don’t tend to post much personal information on Facebook and when my kids were young it wasn’t really something I was active on. I think we can all feel we don’t measure up to the next person and if someone posts something detrimental it can make you feel pretty bad. The trouble as well is that something could be taken in the wrong context and the next thing you know everyone is on your back and social services are involved, so I think people have to be very careful what they write about.

    Great post. I found it through the Problogger discussion.
    Linda O’Rourke recently posted..Social Media When Do We Stop?

    • Darcy Zalewski April 9, 2013 Reply

      You are so right – it’s easy to take things out of context online. Thanks for joining the discussion!DarcyZalewski

  13. Jo (Dexterous Diva) April 8, 2013 Reply

    Oh my goodness it so does, what a good point. I am here via Pro Blogger and as well as my main blog on blogging and creativity (www.dexterousdiva.co.uk) I run my mummy blog the Mini Divas on http://www.minidivas.blogspot.com. I am sure social media can make mums (and dads) feel uncertain and it can knock our parenting confidence, especially when we have a platform that we put ourselves on, it can make us vulnerable. Great post.dexdiva

    • Darcy Zalewski April 9, 2013 Reply

      Yes – some of us do make ourselves more vulnerable to it and some people take advantage of attacking that vulnerability, I think. Thanks for joining the discussion.DarcyZalewski

  14. Tammy Eakes April 8, 2013 Reply

    Found you through the problogger discussion post contest. I think no matter what you do someone, somewhere will have a suggestion as to how to do it better – regardless of what medium they choose to do it with. You just have to decide what is right for you and your family and go with it. Our uniqueness as parents is what brings up unique children & the next generation of adults…how boring the world would be if we were all the same –
    On my NoSkinnies blog I harp on not comparing your body to others. It is amazing how much happier we are when we focus on ourselves and don’t let others around us influence how we feel about ourselves. I think the same thought can be applied to parenting.

    • Darcy Zalewski April 9, 2013 Reply

      Yes! Comparing ourselves to others rarely makes us feel good. It can definitely be applied to parenting too. I think a lot of moms feel so vulnerable because at the root of it all – we are worried about screwing up our kids. Or at least that’s my take on it.DarcyZalewski

  15. Johanna at ZigaZag April 9, 2013 Reply

    Great question. My kids are grown up now, and I think although all the information and community on the internet would have been wonderful,we lived in some very remote places when they were little, I do think it might have become a bit too much when we were back in the developed world. As you say, the constant comparing would be hard. You need to have a very strong developed sense of self and what you are about. (I found you on the Problogger challenge :) )
    Johanna at ZigaZag recently posted..Where’s the best place in the world to live? Dare I say this?

  16. I try to live a simple, eco-friendly life and have a blog that provides eco tips for busy mums. I’m always posting pictures of my kids frollicking in nature and eating healthy food, playing with the chickens, digging in the garden. What I don’t post is pictures of them eating fish fingers because I am too tired to cook or or myself ho-ing into a donut. And forget about pictures of them slumped in front of the TV while mummy cruises around Facebook… So don’t feel bad when you see other, better dressed, more creative, more involved families. We all have our moments that are skilfully pushed under the social media rug never to be seen by the outside world!
    Jo (down to eath mother) recently posted..What freaks you out the most? [discussion]

  17. dona B April 9, 2013 Reply

    Ah, parenting and social media. A terrible match. I’m grateful I’ve never been attacked for anything I’ve posted online about my parenting or my child (yet) and have found wonderful community and support. But I do fall prey to posting mostly pretty pictures which don’t show the true grit and struggle of living with a two-year-old. Even if she is really cute in her glasses.

    I just wrote a post about why I do that, which might not be why you’d think: http://www.nurturedmama.net/zen-of-instagram/
    dona B recently posted..Can The Grouch: How To Get Rid of a Bad Moodnurturedmama

  18. Kathleen Caron April 10, 2013 Reply

    You make a really good point, it can be very intimidated and of course there is a lot of bragging that goes on, especially on Facebook. Mostly I find that friends are interested and charmed by the kinds of things I post. I tend not to brag, which I think alot of people find annoying. Tend more towards the “isn’t this fun” or “just wanted to let you all in on this thing.” Social media should be fun and informative, I don’t like when it gets to be a burden.
    Kathleen Caron recently posted..what is your pet peeve (and why are you petting it anyway?)kathleencaron

  19. Zweischneid April 10, 2013 Reply

    I don’t think the phenomenon you describe is particular to social media.

    Social pressure/scorn/whatever directed towards parents for allegedly not dressing/feeding/educating their children is as old as humanity.

    True, in this day and age, it may come through the channel of social media as opposed to through the channel of village gossip around the central fountain, but the act is not tied to the medium or technology it travels on.
    Zweischneid recently posted..Infinity Teaser for ‘Max Skorpio’ – What Is It?

  20. Cathy April 11, 2013 Reply

    I don’t know if social media makes me second guess my parenting. It just makes me mad at other people who are second guessing my parenting. I think social media (and the internet in general) give people the feeling of being anonymous, even though they aren’t. Things they would never say to your face get posted as comments online because the computer gives us a sense that we aren’t really connected to that person like we would if we were with them in real life.

    My solution is just to be very careful what I post and to be very careful with the comments I leave on other’s posts. I reread everything I type online whether it is a blog post, a comment or a tweet. If I think someone will be upset over it or construe it the wrong way (because we all know “tone” is not always conveyed well over the internet), then I just delete it. I’d rather keep my opinion to myself than possibly hurt someone else online. (Found your post through Problogger.)
    Cathy recently posted..Great Posts to read from around the Webstayinthecarmom

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